Duplicate Content Can Affect Your Dental Practice’s SEO

Your dental practice’s website is central to your dental marketing strategy. It serves as a virtual location, information centre, channel for patient communications and engagement and marketing collateral for your dental practice. To maintain your online presence, your website must be well run and managed. That said, you should understand what duplicate content is and the effect it can have on your website, online presence and dental marketing strategy. 

Duplicate content refers to substantial blocks of text that appear on different pages of one website or different websites. When the same content is linked to different URL domains, it becomes difficult for Google’s search algorithms to establish the origin of the content and this can have adverse effects on the website that originally published the content. For example, if your dental practice’s homepage contains a list of dental care services and their definitions but the exact text used on that page appears on a different dental practice’s website, your website’s growth and ranking on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) could be affected.  

In this article, we will discuss the two types of duplicate content, the implications of having duplicate content on your dental practice’s website, how to find out if your website contains duplicate content and the steps you can take to avoid having duplicate content. 

Types of Duplicate Content

  1. Internal Duplicate Content: Internal duplicate content occurs when the exact block of text appears on two or more pages on the same website. For example, if the homepage of your dental practice’s website contains a series of paragraphs about you or your dental practice and those exact texts appear on the About page of the same website, this is considered as an internal duplicate content. 
  2. External Duplicate Content: External duplicate content occurs when the same block of text appears on two or more websites. Typically, instances of external duplicate contents are caused by webmasters (also known as scrapers) who copy content from a website and add it to theirs without editing the text or giving reference to the original publisher. Sometimes, scrapers go as far as to design their website exactly like the original website. 

These are the two types of duplicate content. For the sake of better understanding, it is important to outline the types of content that are usually mistaken as duplicate content but, in fact, are not duplicate content. 

  • Guest blogs or Guest posts are not duplicate content: If you are invited to write a blog post on another dental practice’s website and afterwards, you publish that same post on your dental practice’s website, you shouldn’t worry about duplicate content. However, in a case like this, we suggest that you link the post on your website back to the website where it was originally published. 
  • Syndications are not duplicate content: If you permit someone else to use content from your dental practice’s website on their website, it is not considered as a duplicate content. In fact, it could be a way to promote your website. That said, the content should be linked back to your website. 
  • A few words don’t constitute duplicate content:  For content to be considered as duplicate, the text copied must be substantial (as many as 1000+ words) and exact. 

Implications of Duplicate Content

Whether it is internal or external, duplicate content can affect your website’s ranking on Google and this is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that your website ceases to be listed on Google’s SERPs. Don’t fret though – several factors have to play out before you can experience any of these scenarios. Chances are your dental practice’s website contains duplicate content right now but you aren’t being punished for them. This is because Google does a good job of getting to the root of the issue before penalizing websites.

Every week, Google’s algorithm – specifically, GoogleBots – comb through the internet and take note of the content on websites. Based on the relevance of these content, Google ranks websites so that internet users can find the relevant content they need when they search for corresponding keywords on Google. 

When you publish content on your website, GoogleBot takes note of it. If the published content already exists on a different page on your website or an entirely different website, GoogleBot flags both content and tries to figure out which webpage or website is the original publisher. Sometimes, an actual human Google staff reviews these flags and tries to identify the origin of the content. If it is established that your website isn’t the origin of the content, the other website will be ranked higher for the content and your website may rank lower or may not rank at all. This can be detrimental to your dental practice’s online presence and dental marketing strategy. 

On the extreme end of things: if Google discovers that you have purposefully duplicated your content to manipulate your search engine ranking or drive more traffic to your website, Google can take drastic action by completely removing your website from its index. This means that your current and prospective patients won’t be able to find your website through a Google search. As you can imagine, no one wants this – so, the rest of this article will discuss how you can find out if there is duplicate content on your dental practice’s website and how you can avoid being flagged for duplicate content.

How to Search for Duplicate Content on your Dental Practice’s Website

To find out if there is duplicate content on your dental practice’s website, you can either work with an SEO marketing professional or use marketing tools to search for such content. Connect the Doc’s SEO experts will comb through your dental practice’s website, uncover instances of duplicate content and guide you on how to quickly fix them. Searching for duplicate content can be time-consuming so you may benefit from working with an expert on this. 

If you want to conduct a manual search for duplicate content by yourself, here is a list of tools you can use: 

  1. Google Search: This is the easiest way to search for duplicate content on your website. All you have to do is copy blocks of text from your website and paste them in the Google search bar. A list of websites with the exact or similar content will be ranked on the SERPs. Although this is an easy way to search for duplicate, it is the least effective. 
  2. Siteliner: Siteliner can be used to find duplicate content, broken links and empty pages on your website. To do this, visit Siteliner’s homepage and enter the dental practice’s URL in the bar that appears. Siteliner combs through your website, lists out the pages on your website that contain duplicate content and the scrapers that are using your content. 
  3. Copyscape: Much like Siteliner, Copyscape lists out scrapers that are using your content and goes a little further by providing you with tips on how to remedy the situation. 

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

Now that you’re familiar with the definition and implications of duplicate content, as well as the tools you could use to search for them on your dental practice’s website, we will discuss the different ways you can avoid being flagged for duplicate content The steps highlighted in this article are entirely based on Google’s recommendations for websites to avoid duplicate content. 

  1. Add 301 redirect to your website: 301 refers to a status code from a server to a browser. It is used when a webpage is being redirected to another webpage. If you notice that two pages on your dental practice’s website contain the exact block of text and realize that you don’t need both pages, you could set up a 301 redirect that directs web visitors and search engines to the appropriate page. By adding this status code to your website, you point GoogleBots in the right direction of the page that needs to be ranked. 
  2. Keep your internal links consistent: Internal links on your dental practice’s website are essential to Google’s ranking and indexing process. It is important to keep your internal links consistent by ensuring that pages on your website are linked to each other and the navigation within your website is simple and consistent. 
  3. Avoid empty pages and broken links: Two things you must avoid having on your dental practice’s websites are empty pages and broken links. If there are pages on your websites that do not contain any content, unpublish those pages so that they can’t be found by your website’s visitors or GoogleBots. More so, if there are links on your website that do not work, get rid of those pages. You can use Siteliner to search for broken links on your website. Empty pages and Broken links can adversely affect your ranking on Google. 
  4. Minimize similar content: As much as you can, you should avoid using the exact blocks of text on different pages on your dental practice’s website. If you have two or more pages with the exact block of text, consider modifying the text differently on the different pages or consolidating the pages into one. The lesser the instances of duplicate content on your dental practice’s website, the higher your SEO ranking will be. 

If you have a webmaster or a company that is actively involved in the development and management of your dental practice’s website, we suggest that you refer them to these steps so they can make the necessary adjustment to your website and ensure your dental practice benefits from ranking high on Google’s SERPs. 

If you do not have a webmaster or if you would like to improve your dental practice’s website SEO and online presence, contact a Connect the Doc specialist today. Connect the Doc specializes in developing and optimizing dental marketing strategies for dentists. Our dedicated website manager will work with you and equip your dental practice with a comprehensive set of marketing tools you need to reach your business and marketing goals